It seems that Electronic Arts is in the running to win its second consecutive “Golden Poo” award from The Consumerist. Each year an award is given out to a company which is voted by readers as the “Worst Company in America”, by this subsidiary of Consumer Reports. Last year EA took the honors largely due the handling of MW3’s DLC featuring what many considered a far superior ending to the title. This year EA is trying to respond the allegations which have allowed it to rise in the polls. With the recent departure of John Riccitello, EA’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore is going to bat for the Brand label. Among the complaints he responds to are:
- Many continue to claim the Always-On function in SimCity is a DRM scheme. It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer – it’s not. Period.
- Some claim there’s no room for Origin as a competitor to Steam. 45 million registered users are proving that wrong.
- Some people think that free-to-play games and micro-transactions are a pox on gaming. Tens of millions more are playing and loving those games.
- We’ve seen mailing lists that direct people to vote for EA because they disagree with the choice of the cover athlete on Madden NFL. Yes, really…
- In the past year, we have received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against EA for allowing players to create LGBT characters in our games. This week, we’re seeing posts on conservative web sites urging people to protest our LGBT policy by voting EA the Worst Company in America.
Now I can see EA’s standpoint, but the larger issue isn’t these recent challenges to their business model and corporate ethics, though “Always-On” and the potential for Micro-transactions to equate to “Play to Win” do concern me, it is the numerous years of poor decisions made by the company. I’d like to see Peter Moore respond to a few of the following questions.
- EA has a reputation for buying successful small to mid sized studios and changing their philosophy to meet its (EA’s) business model. When these studios are no longer as successful as a result they get gutted, and the fans get mad due to lowered support for titles they enjoy, and the change in model the subsidiaries are forced to adopt. Why is EA not able to make the connection here?
- EA has shown astute ability to not be able to read the market trends in the past decade and a half. When Ultima Online defined the MMO genre almost all subsequent titles from competitors were more successful after taking a widely different direction. When EA tried to close the gap it was much too late, we saw a similar issue with Star Wars: The Old Republic and the conversion to Free to Play, EA failed to see the market shift ahead of time then played catch up though in this case with much better results. How can EA better direct itself in the future to prevent these type of events from reoccurring?
- EA’s support is consistently under fire, I’ve played and play many EA online titles, support is abysmal, in Ultima Online support wait times are often measured in hours with often only a “canned response” being sent and some times no response at all. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’ve had tickets left unanswered for days. How can EA improve the support image they have acquired?
The ball is in your court EA, it’s up to you to address major issues that are enraging your fan base. In the event of a repeat I wish you luck on turning your reputation around.